Sunny days are making more frequent appearances in the Boise, Idaho area, and signs of life are beginning to stir from plant life of various forms. Days are growing longer and frosty mornings are almost a memory.
This can mean only one thing.
Boise State football is about to commence camp. Oh, and spring is in the air.
Spring camp this year is a lot less of a mystery for the Broncos than it was just one season ago. However, the position battles brewing should still bring some intrigue and excitement to The Blue.
Among those battles that will take place are four that seem to be most compelling. Let's break those down and attempt to predict which players might find themselves rising to the top of the depth chart.
There are many subjects that Bronco fans love to talk about.
Topics such as the blue turf of Bronco Stadium, two Fiesta Bowl wins, the long tradition of high quality football at many levels, their excellent coach and a brand new football complex that is getting ready to open.
They also love to speak about another double-digit win total last season and one more bowl game victory. You can also hear them brag about the numerous former Broncos in the NFL and what looks to be a great television deal with ESPN to broadcast all of their home games coming soon.
However, those same fans have a list of things they don't like waste words on. It is a short list, and it can be summed up with one word. Or, rather, one position.
The title of kicker has been a frustrating experience for Boise State in recent years. Last season however, senior Michael Frisina did some things that helped repair the heart-breaking memories of recent seasons past. His winning field goal against Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas was a welcomed relief by all of Bronco Nation.
But, fast forward just three months and spring camp starts for Boise State with a huge question.
Will the Broncos have a solid field-goal kicker in 2013?
The position battle this spring will come down to three guys.
Redshirt junior Dan Goodale and junior college transfer Tyler Rausa are probably the top prospects to keep an eye on this spring. Redshirt freshman Sean Wale, who is listed as a punter on the roster, is also a decent field-goal guy, but has to be third right now on the list.
Goodale does have the advantage over the other kickers on the roster in that he has been a Bronco since 2010. He was a redshirt that season, but then got a decent amount of playing time in 2011.
He was 50 of 56 on PATs in 2011, according to BroncoSports.com, but missed two of his five field-goal attempts.
Last season Goodale lost out to Michael Frisina for the starting job, and this season he could find himself in the same kind of position.
Unless he did some very good things in the offseason and is coming into camp with considerable improvement, he is most likely going to be the backup.
His competition is good, and you have to believe the coaching staff wouldn't have gone out and got a junior college player if they were confident in Goodale as the starter.
Rausa will come to Boise fresh off a very good freshman season at Riverside Community College. He went 15 of 20 on field-goal attempts with a longest of 48 yards and garnered all-conference honors, according to BroncoSports.com.
Rausa has a powerful leg, and decent accuracy. He is probably similar to Michael Frisina but with a bit more range.
Frisina was money from 30 yards or closer, and that formula worked out well for the Broncos in 2012. However, Rausa probably extends that range by at least 10 or even 15 more yards. That could be a real asset for the 2013 Boise State squad.
Redshirt freshman Sean Wale will most likely be the backup to senior punter Trevor Harman in 2013. Wale has a very good leg, and he is going to do some good things as a Bronco.
However, the same question remains for Wale when it comes to field goals. If the coaches were confident in Wale to kick field goals effectively why would they have gone out and grabbed Rausa?
Of course, that is what spring camp is all about. If Wale comes into camp and wows the coaching staff, he will be the guy.
Head coach Chris Petersen has always said that he loves competition. No player on the Broncos roster can show up and just expect to be the starter. He must earn it.
Look for Wale and Goodale to compete hard against Rausa for the opportunity to be the next Boise State field-goal kicker. It will be one of the most intriguing battles of the spring.
The fact that coaches went after a junior college guy speaks volumes. Look for Tyler Rausa to earn the edge this spring.
Boise State fans will watch the NFL draft with anticipation again in 2013. While it won't be the amazing experience 2012 was when six Broncos were drafted with two of those in the first round. However, they should hear a couple, or even possibly a few Broncos names called.
At the top of the list is Jamar Taylor. He was an incredible defensive back for the Broncos, and he was a big reason the defense was so good last season. He should probably go second or third round at the latest, and has the potential to be a great NFL player.
Jerrell Gavins is another excellent corner that should find a spot on an NFL roster. He along with Taylor shut down opposing receivers in 2012, and both will be sorely missed.
Replacing those guys won't be easy, but Boise State does have some excellent talent looking for their shot.
The competition at cornerback should be something to watch this spring. There are so many talented guys on the list, which should also give some depth, but only two can be the starters.
The only senior on the list is Ebo Makinde. His presence on the roster probably helps some of the younger guys, but he may not find himself starting. In fact, he may end up backing up at safety.
Newcomers on the list will be junior college transfers Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston. Both of these guys are solid and will no doubt be making a push in camp. Their presence will elevate the competition, and one or both of them could make a real splash.
Sophomore Donte Deayon and redshirt junior Deon'tae Florence have to be the front-runners going into spring. Deayon earned some playing time as a backup in 2012, and in total he had 17 tackles and one interception.
Florence made a big impact in spring camp last year, but with Gavins and Taylor around he found himself playing the waiting game. Well, the wait is over.
Cleshawn Page, Mercy Maston and Deon'tae Florence are all junior college transfers who have proved themselves at the college level. However, now they must prove themselves at the D-I level.
Look for one of these guys to earn a starting spot, and right now Deon'tae Florence has to have the edge simply because this will be his second season in camp.
Donte Deayon did some good things last season as a true freshman. There is always a chance that he could take a redshirt season, depending on how deep the talent is at corner for the Broncos. However, it will be up to him to make coaches think otherwise.
Page and Maston look incredible on film, so it is probably safe to assume both will get playing time in 2013.
Makinde will have to do some special things in camp to get back into the cornerback conversation, but he is a young man who seems to always work hard and his heart and character can only help him.
Spring camp should give some indication of the pecking order. Right now it looks like Boise State will have two JUCO guys leading the way. Florence is one, but the other starting spot is probably up for grabs.
Boise State seems to always have an excellent running back on the roster. Brock Forsey, Ian Johnson, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper are all names that Bronco fans are familiar with.
Will Jay Ajayi be the next one on the list?
Well, if 2012 is any indication, it is safe to say that barring injury Ajayi should have a very good 2013 season.
The only question seems to be if anyone could challenge Ajayi in spring camp? Not only that, but who will be the backup in 2013, and what kind of depth will the Broncos have?
Spring should give some indication to everyone of those questions.
If anyone could challenge Ajayi in spring it would have to be junior college transfer Derrick Thomas. He is a talented running back, and at 6'1" and 210 pounds, his size is similar to Ajayi (6', 222 lbs.).
These two running backs should be an incredible tandem in 2013. How good? Spring ball should give fans a peek at Thomas, and if he does what he appears capable of, those same fans are going to be extremely excited going into the fall.
Jack Fields will be back for his sophomore season, but a lackluster freshman year may have set him back. Depending on what he did in the offseason, fields may put himself in place for a backup role or redshirt season.
Charles Bertoli is a redshirt freshman who many Boise State fans don't know about. Under-the-radar, Bertoli has some incredible highlights from his high school days. If he can translate that, he could be a decent backup or return guy.
Another redshirt freshman talent is Devan Demas. He has amazing moves and speed. At 5'8", 170 lbs. he is a great contrast to Ajayi and Thomas. It is a thunder-and-lightning approach that has worked for the Broncos in the past, and Demas could fit that formula nicely.
Last on the list is Jamel Hart. He is a walk-on mystery. He is talented, but lacks some overall speed. What will he do this spring? It is anyone's guess.
Ajayi should be the starter, and Thomas should do enough this spring to be the leader on the list of backups. Demas should get his carries, and you can expect him to do impressive things in camp.
Look for Bertoli to make some noise this spring and make his name much better known around Bronco Nation.
Unless Jack Fields is much improved he might find himself granted a development year.
No idea about Jamel Hart, but it would be nice to see a walk-on earn a scholarship. Especially in a position that always needs depth.
Ajay, Thomas, Demas, Fields or Bertoli followed by Hart is probably what it looks like this spring. Just in time for Aaron Baltazar to jump in the mix come fall.
Another season, another quarterback battle. However, this one will not be what the last one was.
Still, coach Petersen loves to play it up, and for good reason. He has a lot of talent on his roster at this position, and no doubt wants to get the best out of each guy.
Every quarterback on the list has his own set of talents that sets him apart from the others.
Last season it looked like Southwick and Patti were battling it out for the starting nod. Which, is very impressive considering Patti was a true freshman. Not even Kellen Moore started as a true freshman.
This season, it looks like the same battle for the top of the quarterback mountain. However, you have to wonder if Laughrea can finally make a run.
Joe Southwick will probably get the nod as the starter this fall, but it is not a guarantee.
Patti and perhaps Laughrea could give him a push in camp. Hedrick has his niche as a Wildcat option guy, and it would be hard to see him as the starter.
Laughrea should impress this spring with his arm. He did that last year, but then had a very bad spring game and experienced the injury bug.
Some of the throws he was making in spring camp impressed even the harshest of critics, no names inserted, and no confessions made. It had some thinking Laughrea could make a surprise run at the starting job.
Jimmy Laughrea is very talented, and he could probably start for many D-I schools. It brings up a big question if he doesn't win the starting job.
Will he transfer?
That is not a fun question to ask, but you have to wonder. There is so much talent currently on the roster at quarterback with another one being added to the list this fall when Ryan Finley arrives.
That leaves Finley, who will no doubt redshirt, Patti as a redshirt freshman, Grant Hedrick as a redshirt junior, Southwick as a redshirt senior and Jimmy Laughrea caught in between as a redshirt sophomore.
To say this spring is important for Laughrea is probably an understatement.
The pecking order going into the spring is probably Southwick, Patti, Laughrea and Hedrick. It may very well be the same order coming out of spring camp.
Southwick proved that he can get better. Last season he continued to improve, and by the end of it all he was making good decisions, better reads, throwing accurately and found his mobility once again.
That is a very good recipe to win the starting job in 2013.
Nick Patti will be interesting to watch this spring. He should be even better than last year, and he may have a whole lot of people calling for him to start over Southwick.
One thing for sure is that coach Petersen will have a much better option at backup this year if the starter should struggle early.
Laughrea will impress with his arm, but unless he comes into spring with a new level of confidence, leadership and decision making, he will once again find himself in a backup role.
Southwick will enter spring the starter, and unless something strange happens, he will leave camp in the same position. Nick Patti will probably earn the edge as backup.
Continue to check Bleacher Report for updates throughout spring camp.